“After almost ten years of legal proceedings, objects from four Crimean museums and presented at the exhibition “Crimea: Gold and Mysteries of the Black Sea” in Amsterdam have been returned to Ukraine,” said the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in a press release, Monday, November 27. Ukraine’s culture ministry called the restitution a “great historical victory.”
“Only the Ukrainian people should own these objects of historical value,” stressed Acting Minister Rostyslav Karandeev, in a statement received by Agence France-Presse. “It is very important for us to preserve and protect our history, our traditions and our historical heritage. This is what we are fighting for on the battlefield,” he added.
According to the Ukrainian customs service, the archaeological collection “arrived from Amsterdam in a truck” equipped with “a temperature maintenance system, in special trunks.”
Our 2014 archive: Article reserved for our subscribers Scythian gold, victim of the conflict between Moscow and kyiv
Known as the “gold of the Scythians,” a nomadic people, this collection will be preserved in Kiev until Ukraine regains control of Crimea, the National Museum of the History of Ukraine said .
Dutch court decision in June
After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, Ukraine on the one hand, and four museums on the occupied peninsula on the other, demanded the return of these priceless objects, while the collection was was in the Netherlands for an exhibition.
But the Allard-Pierson Museum in Amsterdam said it would not do so until a judge had decided to which party the pieces should be returned. This was done in June 2023, when the Dutch Supreme Court decided to return the collection to the Ukrainian state “and not to the Crimean museums” controlled by Moscow since the annexation.
Read also: Dutch justice orders restitution of Crimean archaeological treasures to Ukraine
This rich collection of objects dating from the second century AD to the early Middle Ages “belongs to Crimea and must be there,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov responded on Monday.
Ukraine, which was part of the USSR until 1991, maintains one of the finest collections of Scythian art, including a heavy gold pendant believed to have belonged to a Scythian king, on display in Kiev. The Scythians, originally from Central Asia, had migrated westward during Antiquity and settled notably in southern Russia and in present-day Ukraine.
Since the start of the Russian invasion, Kiev has accused Moscow’s troops of looting its art objects, including stealing a collection of Scythian gold exhibited in a museum in the southern city of Melitopol. Ukraine now occupied by Russia.